Advocates for the use of solar power frequently cite the amount of energy in the sunlight that reaches the surface of the Earth per given period of time as a useful figure in the discussion of the potential harvest of solar power.
In an interview with Jon Stewart in October of 2009, Al Gore used a version of this often-cited statistic, saying that "More sunlight falls on the surface of the earth in one hour than is necessary to provide the energy for the entire world for a full year."
This is useless information.
Even if the statistic is accurate, it does not apply to the potential harvest of solar power.
The maximum possible infrastructure buildout is a miniature fraction of the surface of the Earth the dry part, that is, which is a minority of the surface.
The implication that there's a useful comparison between the immensity of sunlight on the surface of the Earth and the potential for its harvest is hokum and snake-oil, and it erodes the logic of an important conversation.